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On the Eve of the Big Release
November 16, 2006 7:21 AM   Subscribe

On the Eve of the Big Release Just in case you haven't drowned in the flood of stories about the new consoles, Businessweek is offering a few more. For the PS3, we have a summary article giving information on Sony's current situation, along with a 4 (out of 5) star review. In the Wii's corner, we have an interview with two of Nintendo's developers, who discuss the rationale behind the controller redesign, pricing, and keeping their gamers happy. Call it a little light reading before you hit the lines tonight.
posted by PreacherTom (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
if you aren't already IN the lines for the PS3, best of luck to you...
posted by jonson at 7:30 AM on November 16, 2006


My boyfriend and I saw people camped out last night. In the rain.

We walked on, smug in our knowledge that 1) we're not going to pay more for a video game console that costs more than a return flight from Toronto to London, and 2) our Wii will be delivered Monday.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:31 AM on November 16, 2006


Also, I despise the way stores do this. They should do a wristband thing, matching a unique # on the band with your ID. Then people don't need to camp, they can just show up at the store whenever.

Yes, ok, people would camp to get the wristbands, but still, I think ti would make the whole thing just a little less pathetic.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:38 AM on November 16, 2006


I'm glad that world peace will be resolved by these new super powerful game systems. And I look forward to YouTube being flooded with people looking like absolute idiots playing with the Wii controllers. Oh wait, no I don't.

But I do want a PS3 and a couple of million dollars so I can afford to not work anymore and just play video games.

There was a local news story about PS3 campers getting rousted and sent away because it was illegal to overnight on the property.
posted by fenriq at 7:42 AM on November 16, 2006


Local news here near Boston actually played up the economic angle; most of the campers were there to buy a $500 PS3 and sell it on ebay for $2,500.

Assuming they are standing on line for 72 hours or so, these folks are earning $27 an hour standing in the rain and peeing in the parking lot- far better than a lot of the folks on line could be doing otherwise.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:43 AM on November 16, 2006


I think it's pretty funny how worried the Nintendo designers are about how mothers will like the Wii; they seem to be more focused on them than the gamers.
posted by ofthestrait at 7:44 AM on November 16, 2006


Now with preorders, you do not need to camp out for the next big system release!

Now with pre-preorders, you do not need to camp out for the next big preorder for the next big system release!

Now with pre-pre-preorders, you do not need to.... Aw, fuck it. Just hire a homeless dude to stand in line for you.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:45 AM on November 16, 2006


I think it's pretty funny how worried the Nintendo designers are about how mothers will like the Wii; they seem to be more focused on them than the gamers.

I would assume that Moms (and Dads) buy a good percentage of games systems for their kids. Most kids don't have hundreds of dollars in spare cash.
posted by octothorpe at 7:54 AM on November 16, 2006


Why do people spend so much on console systems? You can buy a PC for what these things cost. It seems that Sony is putting some PC-ish features into the PS3, but still. Oh, and screw that proprietary blu-ray crap. I just moved from analog to DVD, not gonna change formats again til I have to.

The Wii makes sense to me financially - about $200, correct? And it offers something new - the funky controller, which will either make or break it, according to me, Capt. Obvious.
posted by Mister_A at 8:02 AM on November 16, 2006


Starcraft is the best game ever written, period. Of what use is a PS3?
posted by jeffburdges at 8:06 AM on November 16, 2006


For us, the Wii (incl extra controller & The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess & nunchuk attachment) is costing just over $300CAD.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:07 AM on November 16, 2006


, I think ti would make the whole thing just a little less pathetic.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy


No, what is more pathetic is to watch these SAME people complain about the DMCA and copyright law and not figure out the money they give Sony for their products help pay for the lobbists and campaign contributions that bring about the very laws they complain about.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:09 AM on November 16, 2006


It's a free country. People are entirely free to wait god knows how long in inclement weather for the opportunity of dropping hundreds of dollars on a game, and I (and others) are entirely free to make fun of those people.
posted by clevershark at 8:12 AM on November 16, 2006


Ten years from now these things will be rotting in thrift stores. Honestly. Fifteen bucks apiece.

Stand in line for something more productive, like a CAT scan or rectal bleaching.
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:14 AM on November 16, 2006


I'm completely content with my 8-bit Nintendo, and I had a blast refurbishing it. Bubble Bobble still kicks my ass.
posted by sciurus at 8:25 AM on November 16, 2006


I'm hitting lines tonight? Well, I'll be darned.
posted by squirrel at 8:28 AM on November 16, 2006


It's truly amazing the resources our societies will put toward creating and playing games, and not toward, say, dealing with the issue of third world poverty. Is there any better example of how fucked-up our priorities are?

he says as he types on his laptop, well-fed, in a rather nice house...
posted by five fresh fish at 8:56 AM on November 16, 2006


five fresh fish : "It's truly amazing the resources our societies will put toward creating and playing games, and not toward, say, dealing with the issue of third world poverty."

People prefer to play games that can be won.
posted by Bugbread at 9:08 AM on November 16, 2006


While driving to the office this morning *at five am* I saw that there was already a line down and around the block at the Best Buy on the corner of Pico and Sawtelle here in Los Angeles. They had tents. Insanity.

I can see camping overnight to get tickets to a football game or one-time concert: the availability of tickets isn't "manufactured". There are just X number of seats in the arena / stadium / concert hall. But for a movie or a video game? Why not just wait a few hours?

If they sell out completely of a video game, surely you have a FRIEND who managed to get one. Play his (or hers). You do have friends, don't you? (j/k)
posted by GatorDavid at 9:15 AM on November 16, 2006


There was a line at Target at 10PM last night, and they were all still there when I left at 8:30AM. They did the same thing for the 360, and the DS. Not the PSP though. That's kind of funny to me still.
posted by Talanvor at 9:20 AM on November 16, 2006


Just in case you haven't drowned in the flood of stories about the new consoles

Stop drop and roll
posted by prostyle at 9:29 AM on November 16, 2006


I'm going to be lining up for the Wii since I missed the brief preorder windows, but fortunately it's not going to be anything like the grueling marathon the PS3 lineup will be. I anticipate driving to an obscurely located electronics store at 5am and reading a novel until the store opens at 10. Wish me luck...

The Wii is a very appealing system, even for older and retro-oriented gamers. Not only does it play everything on the GameCube (which I never owned and thus look forward to trying out), but can download SNES and NES games on a built-in emulator, with its WiFi functionality... all incredibly snazzy for $300 CDN.
posted by mek at 9:31 AM on November 16, 2006


Why are lines even necessary? The stores should just allow people to register for a ticket a few weeks before, and the day of release they can select x number of tickets as "winners" who can purchase a machine. Just make a lottery out of it...at least it gives everyone a chance at getting the system, instead of just the 14-22 year old single male market.
posted by rsanheim at 9:37 AM on November 16, 2006


GatorDavid : "But for a movie or a video game? Why not just wait a few hours?

If they sell out completely of a video game, surely you have a FRIEND who managed to get one. Play his (or hers). You do have friends, don't you? (j/k)"


I agree that the whole thing is insane. However, waiting a few hours won't help. There are only 400,000 units going on sale. There were 500,000 for the PS2, and this launch is more hyped. Plus, apparently, most of the PS3 campers are resellers hoping to make a big buck (which I suspect in reality will be a small buck due to excessive numbers of resellers). So we're looking at a few weeks or months, not a few hours. Heck, people in Japan are still lining up to pick up DS Lights, and those came out in late 2004.

Just waiting for them to become readily available, still, in my opinion, seems preferable to camping in the rain, but, hey, whatever floats their boat.

And regarding having a friend who manages to get one: see above. Odds are relatively low that you or a friend will get one. Here in Japan, in an office absolutely full of tech geeks, we only have one guy whose brother managed to snag a PS3.
posted by Bugbread at 9:39 AM on November 16, 2006


Why are lines even necessary? The stores should just allow people to register for a ticket a few weeks before, and the day of release they can select x number of tickets as "winners" who can purchase a machine.

The real problem are the corporations who are pressed to launch without adequate numbers of the console available for sale. The PS3 will almost certainly repeat the madness that was the 360, while the Wii seems to lean in the opposite direction - sufficient numbers are going to ship in the next month to ensure most everyone who wants one for Christmas will have one by then.

Lining up is an indulgence, as is the instant gratification from buying a console the day it releases, and I'll be damned if you'll take either away from me! Hah. But seriously, anyone mature enough to spurn a lineup can also wait a few weeks before they get their hands on one, amirite?
posted by mek at 9:41 AM on November 16, 2006


I would never pick up a Sony console at launch, they've always had issues, the 360 had heating issues. I'd wait for the kinks to get worked out. The warranty covers problems but I'd rather not go through the hassle. Nintendo consoles seem to be built like bricks though.

That being said I don't think the price is that bad, the 20 gig model is selling for $550 Canadian compared to $450 Canadian that the PS2 launched at. I would say the weak U.S. dollar is responsible for a great deal of the expense of the console.

And the Wii is launching at $280 Canadian, $20 less than the Gamecube did.
posted by bobo123 at 9:42 AM on November 16, 2006


Check out this action!
posted by Mister_A at 9:45 AM on November 16, 2006


"Oh, and screw that proprietary blu-ray crap."

What's not to like? You get yet another proprietary format and, if you're lucky, Sony will pre-install some nice malware for you as well. All of this for only $600, could you find a better bargin? I think not.
posted by MikeMc at 10:02 AM on November 16, 2006


I stopped by a Portland Fred Meyer last night (the one on Foster/82nd) and they had a sign up on the door that said "We Have ZERO Playstation 3s."

I guess that store is troubled enough as it is without having campers and a game riot. Not Fred Meyer in general ... just the one on Foster/82nd, which gives me the creeps no matter what time of day I stop through there.
posted by mph at 10:18 AM on November 16, 2006


Worst management I've heard of so far. No permalink, so in case it scrolls off the linked page:
An assistant store manager announced to the crowd, which had formed about 7 a.m., that the store expected to receive only 10 of the Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles, and that they would become available at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

The store official placed 10 chairs outside the store and directed the waiting customers to another area. At a signal, the customers were told to run to try to occupy one of the chairs. During the contest, a 19-year-old man ran into a pole and struck his head, injuring himself. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
posted by Bugbread at 10:35 AM on November 16, 2006


If you have a 1080i TV, it will only display a game in standard definition, and will only do HiDef if you have a 720P Tv (most older "HiDef ready" TV's only do 1080i, 450P, 480P.
Hey, if your going to line up in the rain for a few days, you might as well add a new TV to your order. Or if you're going to spend $2500 on ebay, what's another couple grand.
posted by phirleh at 10:43 AM on November 16, 2006


A friend who gets things for free at his work got a Wii recently, and I played the tennis game on it. It was fun. I dig the funky controller - I'm not sure if it's because of or in spite of the fact that I pretty much stopped paying attention to new games after Street Fighter II. I like the idea of the console just being about fun games. Anything more complicated or bells-and-whistle-y than video tennis, Zelda, or a green Brazilian shooting electricity sort of gives me hives, so, erm, yes, that's my perspective. Hooray for fun things that appear to be well-made!

As for why stores don't do the wristband thing - just today while running errands I noticed the tented hordes and suddenly remembered that launches were happening - it seems like a part of the promotion of these products is in those very lines. People lining up for days to buy a toy speaks well of the toy, and that makes other people maybe want to buy one. If there was something as logical as a wristband system, then you'd just have the übernerds and the eBay kids run up that first day of the wristbands, and then when the store flashes the "NO MORE WRISTBANDS" sign or what-have-you, people will avoid that store, and they'll write off a new PS3/Wii for at least a few weeks.

That's my two cents, at any rate.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:02 AM on November 16, 2006


Wal-Mart is particularly infamous in the console crowd as being prone to those sorts of riotous free-for-alls on launch days. It seems to be an actual matter of policy with the company.

Most places will respect formed lines and distribute numbers before they open the doors, keeping things relatively sane.
posted by mek at 11:50 AM on November 16, 2006


All this hype hasn't changed the fact that the PS3 is a disaster. Sony is behaving like post-SNES Nintendo, assuming that they will retain the bulk of the market share on the strength of their reputation and therefore don't need to make a quality product.

"Blu-ray" will replace "Betamax" in the next generation's defunct technology punchlines. Key exclusives are drying up - Assasain's Creed and GTA IV have both been confirmed for the 360. The fact they couldn't nail down backwards compatibility, in spite of basically grafting a PS2 onto the new system is another red flag. Save your $600. In a year, this unit's price will plummet as Sony scrambles to recoup their investment and survive as a firm, let alone the market leader in video gaming.

We got a preview of the next console war when the PSP and DS were released. Sure, the PSP was wicked powerful and had a lot of features - but it was also poorly designed, as anyone who tried to play a 3D game on their lil' analog nubbin can tell you. Meanwhile, Nintendo's DS provided much more imagination for a much lower price, and the market responded accordingly.

As the article states, the 360 is about to turn the corner on the console-loss equation, and begin turning a profit. The Wii will turn a profit for Nintendo from day one. Sony's taking a bath on this one.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:13 PM on November 16, 2006


I still ain't gonna buy one. I'm looking forward to getting my Wii, coming through work at a discount in about a week.

The DS is the finest game-box to come out since the SNES, IMO. It's just flat out great. I'm expecting the Wii and its games to be similarly fun to play.

Sony is a mess, and I stopped giving them my money (except for the occasional Sony Films DVD, sigh) after the rootkit fiasco - after more than 20 years of customer loyalty.
posted by zoogleplex at 12:57 PM on November 16, 2006


Check out this action! (Four People Shot While Waiting for PlayStation Console)

Weird. Is this happening all over the place?
posted by soundofsuburbia at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2006


If you have a 1080i TV, it will only display a game in standard definition, and will only do HiDef if you have a 720P Tv

You almost had me ready to join in with the Sony-hating with that, but according to the article you link to, the PS3 will display in 480p if your TV doesn't do 720p. I'd guess 480p would look better than scaled-up 1080i anyway. I don't care for that interlace flicker. Oh well, looks like I'll still be forced to buy one when GT5 is released, some years from now.
posted by sfenders at 2:04 PM on November 16, 2006


Unless you're windowing in some small corner of your TV, though, isn't 480 just scaled up to 1080 to fill the screen anyway? So instead of going 720 → 1080, it goes 720 → 480 → 1080. Is my understanding wrong?
posted by Bugbread at 2:41 PM on November 16, 2006


ofthestrait: I think it's pretty funny how worried the Nintendo designers are about how mothers will like the Wii; they seem to be more focused on them than the gamers.

Well, actually I think that's a large part of the problem with Sony and Microsoft in regards to games. Self-identified "gamers" are a primarily male market with a median age of about 26. Nintendo is actually doing something really cool in designing something simple and cheap. The most popular games in history are played by people from 5-105.

I thought the money-quote is this, "Shigeru Miyamoto: ... Plus, it would take too long to boot up, like a PC, which isn't an ideal toy." (Emphasis added.) That is, toy as opposed to a set-top gaming PC.

For those who have not read into this, Miyamoto is responsible for creating characters with brand recognition that rivals Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. He is also responsible for popularizing game mechanics that have become widely adopted across the industry. The guy knows how to make best-selling games.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:43 PM on November 16, 2006


The store official placed 10 chairs outside the store and directed the waiting customers to another area. At a signal, the customers were told to run to try to occupy one of the chairs.

That scene isn’t complete without a disabled candidate getting trampled in the rush. Maybe he’d get to start from halfway.
Some businesses deserve to get sued out of existence.
posted by dreamsign at 6:50 PM on November 16, 2006


About the scaling issue:

720p and 1080i are similar in quality. Both push roughly the same number of pixels, and the preference is between sharper image (1080i) and smoother motion (720p). 1080p is the best of both worlds, but it's new and expensive.

480p has about 1/4 of the pixels of either 720p or 1080i. There is NO comparison between 480p and either of those other standards. It is far far worse image quality.

The irony here is that Sony has been touting their 1080p 'True HD' experience for months now, and mocking the 1080i limit on the XBOX 360. While MS has since patched the 360 to do 1080p, NONE of the Sony launch titles run in either 1080i or 1080p, they are all 720p. And now, on a very large number of HD sets, they can only run those games in 480p, the same resolution as the lowly Wii.

Me? I'm going Wii60.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:03 PM on November 16, 2006


Local news here near Boston actually played up the economic angle; most of the campers were there to buy a $500 PS3 and sell it on ebay for $2,500.

This was very blatantly what drove the PS3 launch in Japan (judging by the number of games sold vs. the number of consoles sold).

And apparently, that plan isn't working out too well, with the consoles fetching essentially retail price in online auctions.

Suckers.
posted by sparkletone at 8:13 PM on November 16, 2006


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